Predictions for LA Rams 8 top free agents this year
By Bret Stuter
Free Agent VII – Offensive center Austin Blythe
Background – Austin Blythe swapped from his natural offensive guard position in 2019 to the center position, and played well enough to start there in 2020. At times, he played very well. But he needs strong teammates around him, and that was not always the case in 2020.
Strengths – Whatever else you say about Austin Blythe, you certainly should respect his absolute ability to stop playing one position, pivot, and take up as the starter at a new position. It was that ability that salvaged the Rams’ 2019 season and helped the team to rebound in 2020. He plays one of the most important roles for the team’s offense, and he’s one of the best at the role ‘For The Money’. What does that mean? He’s cheap, but a bargain for the price.
Weaknesses – The phrase ‘jack of all trades, master of none’ comes to mind with Austin Blythe. He’s good enough to start, but simply not good enough to deliver dominating or flawless performances. With an offensive center, that can be very problematic. But it gets worse if a line struggles to either side. His performance when lined up next to Bobby Evans in the NFC Divisional round was horrific. He can ‘get you there’, but if the Rams want to win a Super Bowl, upgrading at the center position is mandatory.
Estimated market value – The LA Rams paid $3.9 million to Austin Blythe on a one-year deal and got about that much in value out of him. With a depressed salary cap, that could fall to below $3.0 million for 2021, but a multi-year deal would likely average $4 million per year.
Estimated team action – Blythe is good enough to return, and the LA Rams head coach Sean McVay has stated as much. However, the Rams do have Brian Allen healthy once more, and Allen started at center in 2019. The team also seems to have solid offensive guards with Austin Corbett and David Edwards. The Rams are 50/50 to re-sign Blythe.
Most likely team to sign him – Blythe will not be a primary offensive line target for the reasons cited above. But there are two teams who could sign him: The Detroit Lions or the Seattle Seahawks. With the Lions, he would be snapping the ball to quarterback Jared Goff once more, and that certainly has its own set of merits. With the Seahawks, he would help new offensive coordinator Shane Waldron install his rushing offense upgrades.